Crowdfunding Spotlight: ThermaCharge

Crowdfunding Spotlight: ThermaCharge

Jul 30, 2014

Looking around the KickStarter universe and it becomes apparent that consumers want to charge their phones by any means necessary. There are chargers for wallets, paper towel racks, purses, and now thermoses. Thermoses? Yes, that metal double-walled container that holds the morning coffee now contains a 1,000 mAh lithium ion battery in the base that charges via the hot morning liquid. The device, the ThermaCharge, takes advantage of what is known as the Seebeck effect which creates power from of a difference in temperature between two surfaces.

Certainly sounds like one of the more outlandish projects we have covered here, and I would absolutely agree. But after thinking on it some more I can really see the times when this would be useful. Imagine going camping and being without power for a few days, but still wanting to be able to call a family member or keep in touch with civilization while out in the wilderness. Simply boil some water over the campfire and in a few minutes the ThermaCharge has enough juice to bring any standard phone up to 60% or 70% battery.

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For those who do not hear Nature’s call as loudly as most the internal battery can be charged via conventional means for a quick mid-day pep charge. The biggest thing for a project like this is the price. The ThermaChare is definitely not a product that is worth spending a lot of money considering most people take their morning coffee mug into the office with them and there is no shortage of USB ports there. I could see this being really successful as a camping or hiking product or even for students who do not bring a laptop with them to class.

Fortunately, the smallest ThermaCharge is being offered for only a $60 donation, and the largest runs for a cool $75. For those who are just looking for a cheap gift there is also a non-thermal-charging version that comes with an internal battery which more than doubles the capacity of the standard ThermaCharge at 2,200 mAh. But considering that, even if the ThermaCharge is never used for the containing of a beverage, it is still a $60 thermoelectric power source; which is not something to take lightly.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Coffin Dodgers

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Coffin Dodgers

Jul 25, 2014

This week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight is a memorable game that takes an incredibly morbid topic, namely death, and turns it into something adorable and exciting. Coffin Dodgers; by popular studio Milky Tea, is a kart-style racing game that contains the usual thrills of dashing to the finish line while evading traps and launching projectiles at opponents, but there is an interesting added twist; geriatrics. That is right, all the riders are old enough to remember Eisenhower and they are going as fast as their heavily modified mobility scooters will allow them to. The hint or morbidity comes from the fact that, in addition to racing amongst themselves, they are also trying to outrun Death who also happens to enjoy a good go-kart race on the weekends.

Luckily, the depressing presence of Death is overcome by the amazing joy and vibrance of the surrounding world. The game is based on one giant map of the small retirement community in which these elderly characters reside, and the town has great detail and contrasts well with the dark comedic tone of the game. Just like the town the character models are enjoyable and are filled with emotions that betray their supposed old age. The developers say the art style borrows heavily from the Pixar movie Up and this is immediately apparent as Coffin Dodgers has essentially a perfectly identical vibe.

The game is also animated beautifully and it is apparent the amount of work that went into all the animations, and the map seems to fly by with no sense of lag or deterioration. All the weapons seem appropriate, with projectiles being things such and bowling balls and medicine, and Death has his own arsenal of tricks like tombstone walls. As with most games nowadays Coffin Dodgers features a progressive means to level up a characters kart with better power, shields, and even, apparently, giant racks of missiles.

The only downer of the entire project is the lack of funding so far. This game looks great, and is sure to become a popular title, but at the moment it’s KickStarter campaign has only has raised a touch over £2,000 with a goal of £65,000. There are still eight days to go, and I implore anyone reading this page to check out Coffin Dodgers and consider bringing this incredibly well designed game to the masses, because after all, who doesn’t enjoy cheating Death?

Timberman May Just be the Next Flappy Bird – and it’s on Android

Timberman May Just be the Next Flappy Bird – and it’s on Android

Jul 22, 2014

Timberman is the next big hit casual arcade game in the vein of Flappy Bird. Tap on the left and right sides of the screen to chop down an impossibly-tall tree, making sure you’re not on the side of the screen where the branch will whack you in the head as you cut down the tree, and keeping the timer at the top from running out. It’s devilishly challenging yet hard to put down. Download it now from Google Play.

Bamboo Paper Now on Android, with Free Premium Pens and Paper

Bamboo Paper Now on Android, with Free Premium Pens and Paper

Jul 22, 2014

Wacom’s Bamboo brand, known for their styluses for tablets, has released their official app for drawing and writing on Android. Bamboo Paper is a simple notebook app for sketching, writing, whatnot, all with a pen. It’s also easy to share creations with the app to Evernote and other cloud services.

Do note that if you have an existing Bluetooth Bamboo stylus from Wacom, there’s no support for it yet – but there’s plenty of Android phones and tablets with active stylus support, as well.

The app is available as a free download, and it’s worth getting now, as all the premium pens and paper types are unlocked for free. Get it now from Google Play](https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wacom.bamboopapertab).

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Puracoat

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Puracoat

Jul 21, 2014

It is no secret how fragile the glass screens of our smart devices can be. I have a busted EVO 4G sitting in the back of my desk drawer and a cracked iPad on my bedside table at the moment. As screens get larger they inherently become easier to crack, and with the increasing beauty of the displays it seems like such a waste to cover them with the traditional sticky plastic cover. I have a personal hatred for these things for a number of reason, but the air bubbles and their corner’s refusal to stay down are at the top of the list.

Luckily for all of us a small startup, Puracoat, has modified liquid glass coating for high rise apartments and converted it to be cost effective enough to market and work on smartphone screens. Simply apply a few sprays of Puracoat onto a smartphone screen and wipe thin. Then buff out the imperfections and voila, a semi-permanent hard cover that is nearly impervious to scratching, impacts, and even water. That last part is a hidden benefit to the Puracoat, as it can be used to make any surface water resistant, and because of the perfectly clear nature of the liquid it can be applied to any surface for those looking for a good way to attempt to waterproof their smartphone.

I remain slightly skeptical about this product, but I would still be willing to give it a shot if it meant that my $500 phone’s screen is empirically more resistant to breaking and catastrophic damage. The application of the product is the only thing that worries me, because the IndieGoGo page is very sparse on details. They simply show an actor spraying on the product, wiping it off, and then polishing it flat. I find it hard to believe that it is that easy, but I trust that during the drying process it is fairly easy to get a perfectly flat coat on the screen.

Each bottle can coat up to four smartphones, and the screen needs a new layer of Puracoat every three to six months depending on wear and use. The project started with an oddly low goal of $500, and has since surpassed that, earning nearly 100 times that mark. Pre-orders start at just $18 so I would take this opportunity to get what could be the product that finally kills those awful stick on screen protectors forever.

Making Space Forest Dilemma Fun To Play Was More Important Than Giving It Great Graphics

Making Space Forest Dilemma Fun To Play Was More Important Than Giving It Great Graphics

Jul 18, 2014

Space Forest Dilemma is a very simple game to understand, but don’t let it fool you. The game is tough as nails, but never unfair. That is, among other things, the result of focused gameplay, rather than polished graphics.

Newborn developer Papaquark just released their first, fast paced puzzle game on Android devices, called Space Forest Dilemma. In Space Forest Dilemma the objective is, according to the developers of course, very simple. Just do not collide. On screen there is a grid and on that grid, there are different obstacles and objects – all with their own different movement patterns. To succeed in the game, players need to memorize all those patterns and have to plan ahead of those patterns so they can move all the moveable blocks right after one another.

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Space Forest Dilemma is being praised all over the place. But how did the team of only two guys, Michael and Andreas, come up with the idea? Michael, one of the co-founders, explains. “The idea was originally hatched a couple of years ago during a period of long train rides. Inspired by Rube Goldberg Machines, the basic concept was invented and eventually discarded, since it didn’t play well with a mouse on pc.” This was before everyone had a smartphone with touchscreen. “Last summer we made a prototype on a smartphone and with new touch controls the old idea actually turned into something that was challenging and fun to play.”

If players do not pay attention, the game can be very challenging – perhaps to challenging. But that was a deliberate decision. Both co-founders love old school games and games where one need to think ahead and plan their next move. “This basically includes everything from old school puzzlers like Tetris, to strategy games like the original UFO: Enemy Unknown, to classic adventure games like Grim Fandango. The kind of games that make you feel smart when you get it right, you know.” So based on that – and our own play sessions – the game is hard, but never unfair.

To me, the game has a rough-kinda look and feel – there isn’t much variation on screen and the colors don’t seem to complement each other. Like it is still a beta or early in development or something like that. “It’s a bit of a mix really”, Andreas explains to me. “None of us is a wizard when it comes to graphics, and also we kinda like (or at least we don´t mind) the slightly rough do it yourself style.” They spent a lot more time on testing different game mechanics, making levels and stuff to make sure the game was fun to play, than they did on the graphics.

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“We had an idea to get help with polishing things up, but in the end we decided to do everything ourselves as a learning experiment. We finally ended up with a style that we felt was fairly unique, a good fit with the gameplay and that we could handle with our limited graphic skills. Hopefully we’ll get better and better at graphics too, not necessarily to make it more polished, but to be able to create the right style and feel that we want for our next game.” In that light, it was a good decision to gave the graphics less attention – it helped the developers to get the best out of the gameplay.

Since this is Papaquarks first release, I expected that the team of two guys had to overcome big obstacles to get where they are now. “The hardest part was probably coming up with a name for our studio”, Andreas says with a big smile on his face. “No, but seriously, this is the first game we have ever completed so just finishing and being able to publish it felt like a huge accomplishment for us. Completing a game was simply a lot more work than we had anticipated and we ran into a lot of obstacles. Being our first game though, we kinda expected to make mistakes along the way.”

The technical problems they experienced were like learning experiences for them, which helped with the motivation. “Thankfully we’ve known each other for a long time so we’re not afraid to speak out when we think something’s not that great. We’re also pretty good at knowing when to push each other or when to give each other a break.” Another thing that can only help the final product, which players can download now from the Google Play Store. “Our goal has been to create a game that’s both unique and fun and we believe we have done just that.” Download it here.

Ruzzle Adventure, Now on Android!

Ruzzle Adventure, Now on Android!

Jul 15, 2014

The hit word game Ruzzle Adventure has finally made its way to Android. MAG Interactive’s game where words must be formed quickly from small grids of tiles before the rising water sinks you. Social features allow you to compete with friends for high scores on individual levels with leaderboards available. The game is available now on Google Play.

Havok’s Project Anarchy Mobile Game Dev Challenge Winners Revealed – Plus You Can Play Them Now

Havok’s Project Anarchy Mobile Game Dev Challenge Winners Revealed – Plus You Can Play Them Now

Jul 14, 2014

Havok’s Project Anarchy is a 3D engine that allows developers to easily make games for multiple platforms. And to help show off what can be done with it, Havok ran a contest for games built with the engine, with a $100,000 cash prize to the winning entry. The winner? Cosmonautica – A Space Trading Adventure by Chasing Carrots, a game of space trading, where players must do business, fight enemies, and manage their crew in order to succeed.

The best part? You can give the game a shot right now on Google Play, in an “early access” Alpha version for ~$6.79 US.

As well, you can check out the runner-up train simulation game Hmmsim and puzzle game Temple Match on Google Play right now as well.

Turn any Android Device into an AirPlay Receiver with Reflector

Turn any Android Device into an AirPlay Receiver with Reflector

Jul 14, 2014

Have you ever wanted to use your Android device as an AirPlay receiver? That’s what Squirrels has done with Reflector – now available on Android. If you have an iOS device or a computer using Squirrels’ AirParrot, just launch Reflector and your Android device should show up as an AirPlay receiver. Now you can use your phone, tablet, or even TV-connected device, to view your iOS device, Mac, or computer running AirParrot, anywhere. Pretty cool. The app is available now on Google Play.

Halfbrick’s Fish Out of Water Swims on to Android

Halfbrick’s Fish Out of Water Swims on to Android

Jul 11, 2014

Good news for Android-owning Halfbrick fans: their 2013 game Fish Out of Water has at last swam on to Android. This is not an endless runner: the goal is to launch fish across the ocean, with each fish behaving differently through the air, and with the water. The goal is to get three fish to perform as best as possible, getting as high a score as possible from the judges. The game is available as a free download.

Happy Leo’s Fortune and Wayward Souls Release Day, Everyone!

Happy Leo’s Fortune and Wayward Souls Release Day, Everyone!

Jul 10, 2014

Oh is it a great day to be an Android gamer. While these are both games that came out on iOS earlier, they’re both out today and are well worth checking out.

Leo’s Fortune is a fun platformer with Sonic-inspired elements that’s been much beloved so far, including winning an Apple Design Award. Now it’s on Android, and is well worth checking out for platformer fans. Get the game form Google Play here. Check out the rad trailer below:

Wayward Souls is Rocketcat Games’ latest masterpiece, an action-RPG with roguelike elements that’s challenging, and very lengthy. It’s on sale for $4.99, and will only get more expensive over time. This is another must-have. Check out a trailer below, and click here to get the game from Google Play.

We’ll have full reviews of both of these games very soon.

Chromecast Cast Screen Feature Releasing to the Public Soon

Chromecast Cast Screen Feature Releasing to the Public Soon

Jul 10, 2014

Announced at Google IO, Chromecast’s screen mirroring will be making its way out into the world in beta form for selected devices. The list includes Nexus 4 & 5 phones, Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, Note 3, and Note 10″, LG G2, G3, G Pro 2, and the HTC One M7, including Google Play Edition versions of those phones where applicable. From the Chromecast app, a “Cast Screen” option will be available. The update’s not quite available yet, but will be very soon according to Google.